No-bull elixir: New Zealand’s clean label energy drink brand resumes nationwide expansion after COVID-19 delays

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

The firm’s existing three energy drink products, original (Apple and Lemon), Elderflower and Lime, as well as Ginger and Turmeric are available at petrol stations, cafes, convenience stores, supermarkets as well as its e-commerce site. ©Phoric
The firm’s existing three energy drink products, original (Apple and Lemon), Elderflower and Lime, as well as Ginger and Turmeric are available at petrol stations, cafes, convenience stores, supermarkets as well as its e-commerce site. ©Phoric

Related tags: Clean label, Energy drink, COVID, New zealand

New Zealand clean label energy drink brand Phoric is resuming its nationwide launch after plans were put on hold during the COVID-19 lockdown earlier in March.

The brand was launched in New Zealand in April 2019, starting in the Upper North Island, and is now expanding to the South Island.

According to co-founder Holly Sutich: “We are grateful that New Zealand went into lockdown when it did, as public health is the number one priority. (However) it also delayed our nationwide launch, which was due to happen in March​.

As a small business in the energy space, we were negatively impacted as cafes were closed, and people were going in and out of the supermarket quickly, not browsing shelves as they usually would​.”

The firm’s existing three energy drink products, original (Apple and Lemon), Elderflower and Lime, as well as Ginger and Turmeric are available at petrol stations, cafes, convenience stores, supermarkets (Four Square, New World) as well as its e-commerce site.

Now that lockdown has subsided, we are continuing with our nationwide launch. As we had completed production runs just prior to the lockdown, we didn't have to undertake any sourcing of raw materials during the lockdown which was lucky​.”

Since its launch slightly more than one year ago, the firm is retailing its products in 130 stores across New Zealand.

Clean alternative

According to Sutich, Phoric was founded to create a clean and natural option of energy drinks that were not available in the market.

My co-founder Bradley Hagan and I had the inspiration for starting Phoric in our first year of university at AUT University in Auckland, when we found ourselves and our peers drinking copious amounts of energy drinks to get through the demands of study, but feeling guilty for consuming drinks that were full of artificial ingredients and refined sugars​.

We decided we wanted a natural option, and we couldn't find any in the market that fulfilled our want for a 'clean' drink that also tasted good, so we decided to create our own​.”

Phoric differentiates itself to other energy drinks by its caffeine source, which is obtained from the Guayusa leaf, and is not artificially produced.

It is a Fair Trade, organic, and sustainably farmed superleaf from the Amazon that contains natural caffeine and antioxidants​.”

On the nutrition label of Phoric’s original energy drink, the ingredients listed included sparkling water, apple juice concentrate, organic guayusa leaf concentrated infusion (filtered water and organic guayusa leaves) (1%), lemon juice concentrate, natural flavours, and natural caffeine from green coffee beans.

Phoric’s energy drinks contain 32mg of caffeine/100mL, which is equivalent to a double-shot cup of coffee.

Compared to other energy drinks in the market, a check on energy drink giant Red Bull’s website found 32mg of caffeine/100mL, while V’s reported 31mg caffeine/100mL.

Sutich said its main ingredient Guayusa is sourced from Ecuador, “We use natural apple juice concentrate that comes from apples here in New Zealand, and the rest of our ingredients either come from New Zealand, or other countries in Europe and Australia where the particular ingredients grow best.​”

The drinks are bottled in glass bottles in Tauranga, New Zealand.

The drinks are priced at NZ$4/330mL (US$2.60), slightly above other energy drinks in glass bottles sold in New Zealand around NZ3.50 (US$2.30).

Sutich explained: “As a premium product, that is all natural, customers are willing to pay a little bit extra for something without the perceived negative impacts of artificial ingredients and refined sugars​.”

According to her, its best-selling flavour in Winter is Ginger & Turmeric, which in Summer changes to either Elderflower & Lime or its Original (Apple & Lemon).

Social impact

While the firm aimed to create a cleaner alternative of energy drinks, it was also focused on the impact in the community.

The firm donates five cents from every bottle sold to a charity in New Zealand to support mental health.

Sutich explained, “Mental health in New Zealand is a big problem, and is under-funded, so we have partnered with a charity called Supporting Families NZ who support families towards mental wellbeing​.”

Sutich told us there were plans to expand overseas eventually, however its primary goal now is to grow its distribution and brand awareness across New Zealand.

As of August 11, 2020, Auckland announced a temporary lockdown of the city as it records new cases of the outbreak after more than 100 days of being COVID-19 free.

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